The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) today announced the successful completion of a twelve-month cross-industry pilot programme to evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to increase trust and transparency in digital advertising. Launched by JICWEBS last year prior to its merger with TAG, the pilot included participants from major brands including Nestle, Telefonica/O2, McDonald’s, Virgin Media and Johnson & Johnson; agencies including GroupM, Havas, IPG, Mindshare, OMD, and Zenith; and more than 15 prominent ad tech providers and publishers spanning nearly every segment of the supply chain.
“Building a more transparent ecosystem requires both innovation and collaboration, and this pilot has demonstrated our industry’s commitment to working together to quickly and thoroughly evaluate new technologies,” said Jules Kendrick, Managing Director UK & Europe for TAG. “Our pilot showed promising opportunities for a DLT platform, including the potential to achieve a ‘Shared Truth’ where the same data is recognized as valid and accurate across the supply chain. We look forward to expanding our consultative efforts to help ensure that every participant in the supply chain can be sure that ‘what you see is what I see.'”
The results of the pilot helped demonstrate the potential of DLT for:
- Supply Chain Transparency – Despite log level data availability and inconsistency issues, the TAG DLT Pilot successfully validated the use of a DLT platform as a unified data and reporting layer for the industry. DLT harmonises impression log level data to a common format, automates data access management, ensures data immutability, security and privacy – data recorded in the ledger is only be accessed on a need-to know basis via encryption keys under the control of the data provider – and streamlines the access to supply chain reconciled log level data via a single API.
- Supply Chain Optimisation – The Pilot allowed participants to use Shared Truth to validate the execution of campaigns against a set of metrics reconciled among multiple vendors including discrepancies, measurability, viewability, brand safety or fraud prevention metrics. The focus of the Pilot was more on the validation and reconciliation of impressions against qualitative and quantitative metrics and less on the financial values. For DLT reconciled impressions, 34% were categorised as non-qualified and/or non-viewable.
- Operational Efficiencies – The DLT platform successfully tested how smart contracts can automate business processes between ad buyers and sellers providing significant operational efficiencies. Research conducted with agencies indicated that programmatic teams spend up to 60% of their time downloading, formatting and reconciling data, compared with just 20% analysing it. Additionally, 59% of respondents thought campaign reporting and reconciliation would benefit most from automation.
“To address difficult cross-industry challenges, TAG helps create a collaborative environment for companies to share new ideas, exchange information, and set common standards,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “While DLT is still in its early stages, we believe this pilot not only highlights the potential for this type of technology but also the importance of working with stakeholders across industry to evaluate and find consensus on common standards.”
To further evaluate both the opportunities and challenges facing a DLT industry consortium network, TAG plans to launch an industry consultation to share detailed information about the initiative and give stakeholders across the industry the opportunity to give their input to determine how best to move forward. Interested parties can contact TAG’s Director of Strategy and Standards, Adrian Lacey, for further details.
The findings of the Pilot will be discussed at a CreaTech session ‘Where advertising meets technology’ on Monday (7 September at 12:40pm) as part of London Tech Week, featuring Jules Kendrick, MD UK and Europe, TAG; Fiducia CEO Tim Brown; and IPA President and CEO of Publicis Sapient Nigel Vaz.
TAG partnered with London-based tech business FIDUCIA for the pilot, which ran from July 2019 to July 2020 and included 20 data feeds spanning Demand Side Platforms, Supply Side Platforms, Content Verification Tools, and Publishers. The pilot analysed 112 million impressions worth £1.4M across 127 campaigns.
Reaction from participants:
Nigel Vaz, IPA President and CEO Publicis Sapient:
“For me the focus of this project is ultimately about digital advertising payments and reconciliation of the supply chain. While the internet made information accessible to everyone, we hope blockchain as a technology – and specifically DLT, as used in this pilot, will start to create accountability for the transactional aspects of the internet.
“While driving efficiencies, it will also enable greater transparency in line with real, demanding regulatory requirements in a way that will allow us to regain the trust we’ve lost due to the evolving proliferation in this area.”
Steven Pollock, Head of Media Communications for UK and Ireland, Nestlé:
“Nestle is committed to being part of a transparent and accountable programmatic ecosystem. The JICWEBS DLT pilot is an important initiative in understanding how DLT can be a solution to many of the challenges that our market faces.”
Simon Reip, Head of Digital J3, UM (for Johnson & Johnson):
“J&J and J3 are excited to be supporting the potentially groundbreaking JICWEBS DLT pilot, helping lay down the foundations to a more transparent programmatic ecosystem. Only together as a cross-industry consortium can we truly solve this problem, and it’s great to see so many partners willing to take part.”
Mia Mulch, Deputy Managing Director, OMG Programmatic at Omnicom Media Group:
“Omnicom Media Group UK and our agencies are committed to being part of a transparent and accountable programmatic ecosystem. The JICWEBs DLT pilot is one key initiative in the UK that is helping to solve many of the challenges that programmatic faces.”
Vittorio Capasso, Partner Development Manager, Adform:
“We believe the JICWEBS DLT initiative will help the industry to improve transparency and trust, tackling the challenge with an innovative approach that will definitely result in new solutions. We are happy to contribute to this project as we are committed to create a trusted advertising environment”
Bal Singh, Programmatic Sales Director – UK, Aufeminin Groupe / Netmums
“Here at Netmums we believe providing end to end supply chain transparency is a win-win for all legitimate parties within the supply chain and is therefore why we believe a cross industry approach such as the JICWEBS initiative is the best way forward. Not only will it allow our clients to maximise their ad spend and reduce fraud, but it will allow more revenue to blow to premium publishers such as ourselves enabling us to create more quality content for our users. This is why we see initiative as not only important for us, but crucial for the success of our entire ecosystem.”